The countries of Belize, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama have been hardest hit by back-to-back hurricanes. Eta made landfall as a category 4 hurricane in Nicaragua on November 3rd, then lingered for two days over Central America before intensifying and moving on to Cuba, where flooding was already a growing problem.
Today we want to take the opportunity to thank Pastor Anthony DiLiberto, his wife, Jamie and their four children for their faithful, dedicated and valuable service in the Latin America and Caribbean Region.
August came and went in what seemed like the blink of an eye. We finished up our final hurricane prep as well as a few of our on-going summer projects. We received a new executive order that forced us in Ponce to go back to online services (we couldn’t meet the capacity requirements).
We had our first in-person worship service in the reopening on Pentecost Sunday. We met in the outdoor patio of our earthquake damaged buildings rather than the much smaller rented location where we could barely seat 10 people under the strict social distancing requirements. Because of our position on the globe, Puerto Rican summers are hot, and Ponce is the hottest part of the island; but fortunately, our usual 3 pm service time just happens to perfectly coincide with the ideal angle of the sun for casting shade over our patio.
On May 2nd, 2020, a major 5.4 earthquake hit Puerto Rico near the city Ponce. Two hundred families lost their homes after the earthquake. About twenty families were moved to a hotel near the church. The hotel is full because the other rooms are occupied with all the people who were at the refugee camps back after January’s earthquake who did not find a home. The pandemic has not stopped the Church’s response or outreach!.
Questions arise from North American friends who learn we are serving in Latin America as Lutheran missionaries: “But aren’t all Christians there Catholic?” Well, to a large extent, yes, because the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns did a really good job of propagating the Catholic faith for hundreds of years.
Across the Latin American and Caribbean Region, our LCMS Missionaries continue to spread the Gospel in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. In this video, Regional Director Ted Krey talks about our missionaries, changes that have taken place, and how they continue to move the work forward under these trying conditions.
LCMS efforts in Puerto Rico began with the work of the Ohio District in the 1990s. More recently LCMS Disaster Response has played and continues to play a key role following the hurricanes in 2017 and massive earthquakes in early 2021.